Tunia's Diary

Tunia’s idea of natural wine

19 October 2013

At the event of VinNatur held in Villa Favorita, I was able to talk to many other producers and this led me to reflect on the meaning of natural wine.

Unfortunately there is no single definition, it is easy to get confused. For example, the positions of two of the main Italian associations of growers that produce natural wines (VinNatur and ViniVeri) are not entirely in agreement.

Everyone agrees that the grapes must come from vineyards cultivated without the use of synthetic chemicals. The problems start when it comes the processes in the cellar, which should be as non-invasive as possible.

But who decides when a practice should be defined as invasive?

Should I agree with the producer who is absolutely convinced that it’s necessary to eliminate any form of technological experimentation in the cellar?!

So… out with electricity and running water that are a sign of unbridled modernity that must surely be dangerous?! And what about in the vineyard ? Should we get rid of tractors and go back to oxen and horses?

In fact, why stop there? Why put the plants in ordered rows with posts and wires? This is not natural at all for the poor vines. Leave them as they would be naturally!

This approach is obviously absurd because wine is not, strictly speaking, a natural product as without human intervention it would not be produced.So how do we decide what interventions are “natural” and which are not?

I don’t think there is an absolute answer, but it’s up to each individual (producer and consumer) to have the sensitivity to establish the correct rules and limits.

So I will explain what the term “natural” means for Tunia – though even as I write I like the term ever less.

Our wines are:

  • produced in a territory with a tradition of winemaking. This is one of the reasons why we are so attached to our old vines, which are a long way from current international tastes and yet so rich in different “varieties” in the same vineyard. Undoubtedly the specialised nurseries have better clones, but these will never have the typical features or unique characteristics of the old plants,
  • the grapes are farmed with organic farming methods
  • the vinification is carried out by attempting to limit as far as possible the use of substances that are not naturally occurring in wine (the only substance we can’t do without is a little suphite),
  • the vinification is done using technologies that allow us to enhance the qualities of our grapes (for example, considerable cryomaceration for our white wine production)

If I use ice at home to cool drinks in my glass, why shouldn’t I use dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) in the wine cellar to extract colour and aroma from my grapes?

Why is it that if I use a strainer when making tea at home I’m not accused of tampering, but if I filter my wine some people will not approve? Personally, when I’m drinking I don’t like to get bits in my mouth, whether it’s from wine, tea or coffee, and even if they are natural.

Why in the name of a presumed “naturalness” should we make do with wines that have unpleasant notes? 

One of the most telling compliments I received was: your wines are very well produced; they don’t even seem natural…

Too often, in fact, “naturalness” has been an excuse for wines with flaws.

We believe that, with the help of experimentation and technology, we can obtain natural wines of excellent quality. 

What do you think?



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